Day 122 on the Road
Exploring Fox Glacier
Today we are heli-hiking on Fox Glacier! If you like this video and want to see more 365 Days: 365 Activities, then head on over to our YouTube channel!
Today we are going to be heli-hiking on one of the world’s fastest moving glaciers. It’s going to be moving so fast that I’m afraid we’re going to fly off it… Haha.
This morning the weather is playing ball with us it’s a glorious day out there and on our first day in Fox Glacier we are heading on top of that said glacier.
So we are meeting the guys from the Fox Glacier Guiding company that quickly weigh the group and send us on our way we are boarding a helicopter we’re going to land on the glacier and we’re going to have a blast exploring New Zealand’s fastest moving glacier.
All geared up with our windproof jacket backpack woolen socks and boots we are boarding the helicopter but because Laura and I had too big of a breakfast this time we are the heaviest ones so we have a back seat in the helicopter. It feels like we are in an action movie as we are in the helicopter flying over the stunning scenery of Fox Glacier Valley. This whole valley has been carved by the fox glacier and it’s surrounded by rainforest, rocky valley sides and up ahead we can see the terminal face of the glacier. Everyone has their cameras out. They are glued to the windows of this helicopter. It looks amazing.
And now it’s the difficult part of this helicopter having to land on the ice. But here we are meeting our guides for today, it is Tak from Japan and Tom from England. And they are safely taking us away from the helicopter and gonna get us geared up ready to explore this icy glacier.
Welcome to Fox Glacier. This is one of the fastest glaciers in the world. Hope you’re going to enjoy it, ay.
So we’ve got pretty much everything that we needed from the base but once on top of the glacier we are getting our crampons. It takes us only a few seconds to get our crampons on and it’s over a crevasse that Tak gives us the safety briefing. The crevasses here are so big and so deep that they can fit buildings within them. Actually they did find over a 70m deep crevasse only a few days ago. That means that if we fall in them we will never ever be found again.
But luckily Tak and Tom really know what they’re doing. They have a combined 15 years experience hiking on glaciers so they will be taking us all around the glacier telling us all about the glacier despite the fact that the glacier is riddled with those massive crevasses.
One of the fascinating facts about the fox glacier is the neve which is the massive accumulation of ice right at the top of the glacier is over 36 square km that’s bigger than the city of Christchurch which is New Zealand’s second biggest city. It’s crazy.
There’s no need to bring a water bottle onto the Fox Glacier because there are so many of these pools of fresh glacial water goodness. The really cool thing about the Fox Glacier Guiding tour is that we have plenty of time to stop and take photos and the guides themselves are helping us out with our photos along the way as well. And we have really intimate groups and it feels like we are the only ones on this glacier.
One of the really unique features of Fox Glacier and what makes it stand out over any other glacier in New Zealand is this massive amount of ice caves. And the reason why there are so many ice caves on Fox Glacier is because the glacier is trying to fit in a funnel shaped valley meaning that the ice is trying to make it’s way in the valley getting smaller and smaller as it goes. Compressing it on both sides making it bend and create ice caves.
Alright he said if you want to go inside go inside. It’s a bit of a slope and then he said good luck. I didn’t like those last words but. Holy cow. This is a tight fit.
Woah. WOO! Alright. I think that was, I think that was to be expected.
As I watch Robin painfully make his way through this second ice cave I am determined to do a better job than him but turns out I do a pretty awful job as well as I’m sliding on my ass through the cave. You know you’ve been on a good tour when you’ve got a wet ass.
Of course, it’s not just all about about caves here on Fox Glacier But this is an awesome places to see some amazing mountain scenery. We are surrounded by towering peaks topped with snow and also covered with rainforest as well which is a pretty unusual sight when you’re seeing a glacier right next to forest.
Our next ice cave is going to be a little bit harder to maneuver than the two previous ones as it goes up in a little bit of a spiral. Also it’s incredibly narrow. So the group thought it was the right idea to send me, the tallest guy of the group first in the cave.
I’m painfully making my way through it it is really hard to maneuver but it’s really cool once you get inside the cave it’s absolute silence I really do like it.
But because Laura was laughing her ass off while I was going while she’s going through the cave I am standing on top and make sure that I make a massive rumble noise by jumping on the cave. I can hear here scream and woo down the bottom it’s quite hilarious.
Our guides are super knowledgeable and they’re telling us loads along the way. So all of this rock here came from the very top of the glacier about 7km away and it’s been transported in the ice on the ice and through the ice over the years when it reaches this point it’s melting out and people think that it’s from the valley sides down here. It’s not the case. it’s from way up high. And it has been crushed over the years? Yeah, it’s been eroded and grinded down, crushed up, on it’s journey down the valley and eventually it will go into the river one day.
So we continue with our group along the glacier that consists of a couple from India that are on their honeymoon here as well as French couple that are on a working holiday visa. And our guides are taking us to the next cave which actually they’ve only just discovered today. And we are the first group to go through here. That just goes to show how every tour is different on the Fox Glacier and that’s really really awesome.
Needless to say, this cave is the tight fit as well I mean I’ll let you guys watch me trying to make my way around it’s really fun. But the good thing is if I get stuck right here I will not be left without any water I am being completely rained on the melting ice. It’s a really really cool feeling actually cool is the right word right here it’s really cool.
But after we all pass through the ice cave it’s time for us to make our way back toward the heliport or what is used as a heliport here i.e. a little bit of flat patch of ice where we’re going to be boarding back onto a helicopter to make our way back toward the Fox Glacier settlement.
Boarding the helicopter is as hectic as ever we really love the fact that it’s so noisy so dangerous so chaotic I really enjoy it. As soon as the helicopter takes off we see the glacier from a whole different angle. We see it really kind of flat but we’ve just been inside the glacier between all those towering ice peak and ice cave it’s really crazy to see how the glacier looks from above and how hard it is to appreciate sheer size. Another really interesting fact as we are going along the valley is that between 1985 and 2009 the glacier was actually advancing before starting to retreat around 2009 since then it has been losing ground at an alarmingly fast pace.
Again we get to see those amazing rainforest views from above before making our way back down to the Fox Glacier Guiding base where the guides are showing us off the helicopter it’s super noisy so they have to use hand signals to show us what to do and where to go. We are super buzzing after the trip we’ve just done. i can’t believe we have just been in top of the Fox Glacier going inside the glacier as well that is one super unique trip and we will definitely remember it forever. So after we are taking off our gear and returning our boots and woolen socks we actually get a little souvenir which is a certificate showing that we have been on Fox Glacier.
It was such an epic day it needs to be rounded off with an epic beer.
And here’s a tip if you have been to the Monteith’s Brewery Tour back in Greymouth like we did you actually get these free beer coupons which you can spend around the West Coast so we do just that in Fox Glacier and treat ourselves to lovely pint of beer and talk about our amazing experience we’ve just had on the Fox Glacier. But the adventure in Fox Glacier is not over there’s still heaps of stuff that we want to do here and we are still here for quite a few days so stick around.
Let me play with your crevasse Fox Glacier. Let me be Foxy with your crevasse. Stop it robin. You’re so cringy. It’s so awful. Again, someone has to watch that.